Americans keep blindly eating up politicians' lies, and Factcheck.org, a political watchdog featured in the new issue of Utne Reader, may have figured out why. According to a recent article by Joe Miller, research into the human brain shows that if people hear the same idea over and over again, our brains tend to think it's true. For example, if politicians keep saying that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, or that evolution is nothing more than a theory, then people tend to accept what's repeated despite evidence to the contrary. The article notes "how political spin-masters exploit this tendency ruthlessly, repeating dubious or false claims endlessly until, in the minds of many voters, they become true."
The article concludes that humans should be making a special efforts to cast doubt on dubious politicians and big-budget advertisements. The current media-saturated environment makes it difficult to sort out truth from falsehood, but it’s not impossible. At least watchdogs like FactCheck.org are here to help, offering a modicum of protection from the shrill barks of the political hounds. –Brendan Mackie